The lights are on
L.A. Noire is a fascinating look into both the world of
detective work and 1940s America. It's
an interesting blend between classic noir films and Rockstar's penchant for
gritty, suspenseful period games. Like
its predecessors Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire offers a
deep experience with memorable characters, plotline, and gameplay that make for
a satisfying experience unlike anything I've ever played.
The first thing players will notice is Team Bondi's facial
motion capture technology, which comes into play several times during the
course of L.A. Noire. Each actor has
been stunningly recreated in the game's engine, and several faces like Aaron
Stanton and John Noble are recognizable and well-detailed. The world of 1947 Los Angeles is
breathtaking, with each location in the game looking like a picture in a
history book. The jazz music playing on
the radios adds to the immersion, and not long after you'll be drawn into the
setting and characters.
L.A. Noire stars Detective Cole Phelps, who enters the LAPD
after a tour of duty in Okinawa during World War II. Cole is an honest cop, trying to do the right
thing in the midst of corruption running rampant throughout Los Angeles. His experiences in WWII haunt him daily,
which are doubled by the fact that he was rewarded for something he didn't feel
deserved commendation. Many of the cases
in L.A. Noire are based on the real-life Black Dahlia killings in 1947, and the
final third of L.A. Noire expands on the corruption in the LAPD, working its
way up into the higher forms of government.
The average mission in L.A. Noire has you and your partner
arrive at the crime scene, gather clues, and interrogate witnesses. Locations range from houses and bars to film
studios and even sets. Every clue,
location, and person of interest is stored in your notebook, which can be
accessed at any time. You won't want to
leave any stone unturned, as an overlooked clue can make or break your case,
opening new interrogation branches with every clue. Interrogating witnesses is an interesting experience,
as witnesses reactions to lines of questioning can be used to determine if they're
lying or telling the truth, and thanks to Team Bondi's facial capture tech,
each shifty eye and quiver of a lip is a breeze to spot.
During interrogations, you can believe what they say as
truth, call their statements into doubt, or accuse them of lying, however, if
you choose the latter you had better have evidence to back it up, or else the
witness could end the conversation altogether.
The animation and visuals make the interrogations stunning, and each
actor does an excellent job in their role.
However, your line of questioning doesn't impact the story very much;
often you'll be able to get to the same ending regardless if you answered one
or all questions right.
Breaking up the investigations are periods of action, which
range from shootouts to blockbuster-like car chases. Pursuit on foot is also plentiful, but can
get repetitive at times, especially when the chases involve lots of ladders or
pipes to climb. Tailing suspects add
depth to the gameplay as well, but following behind someone and trying not to
be seen isn't as exciting or appealing as a fast car chase or tense standoff
between a criminal and his hostage.
Rockstar has a knack for creating open worlds that feel as
real as our own. Much like GTA's Liberty
City and Red Dead's Western setting, Los Angeles has its own vibe that is hard
to ignore; driving from place to place is memorable and a treat. Unlike the two examples mentioned above,
though, the world isn't as sprawling or immersive. You can roam the streets freely to pick up
street crimes, hidden cars, or golden film reels, but other than that, the city
feels hollow compared to the multitude of things to do in Liberty City.
L.A. Noire is an intriguing and memorable experience that
captures the feeling and emotion of 1947 Los Angeles. Its story of corruption and redemption in
Cole Phelps is both reminiscent and original compared to last year's John
Marston. It's a period piece that
thrives at what it sets out to accomplish; transport players to a world of vice
and deliver a narrative worthy of everyone's attention. Despite a few shortcomings, the remarkable story
and breathtaking visuals seem to trump the lack of life in 1947 Los Angeles.
Final Score: 9.25/10
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